Preemptive Action

3 Apr

While working on my thesis this week (she said, as she swirled her Pinot Noir and contemplated starting a challenging “Friday night puzzle”), I spent a lot of time researching President G. W. Bush’s Doctrine of Preemption with regard to Iraq….

About which I have no desire to continue discussing right now.

What I would prefer to discuss is how preemptive action applies to my own life.

At any given point of any given day, I am thinking about something that I know I should probably do.

For instance, this morning, while at Dunkin Donuts, I had the fleeting but important thought that I should grab a couple of napkins on my way out the door, just in case my coffee should spill as I hold my laptop and use my chin to balance my coffee on top of it.


Fleeting thoughts like these – the napkin thought, that is – are dangerous.

They’re dangerous because, while it would be so easy to act on them, we like to think that in simply thinking these thoughts, we alert ourselves to any possible risks associated with them, and therefore eliminate the need to preemptively prevent against these risks.

That’s exactly what happened this morning. I thought about grabbing napkins but didn’t, and so I thought I was safe from any spillage.

Wrong. Terribly incorrect.

On the way to class, I inadvertently applied coffee eau de toilette all over myself. (Is it sexy to tell people that all I wear to bed is spilled coffee? Sure, it’s a little bit more potent than Chanel No. 5, but to each his own!)

You see? Had I taken the oh, I don’t know, THREE seconds to grab a napkin or 1200, I would have been able to soak up the coffee and wouldn’t have had to shake it off like a wet dog and then lick my own hands like a homeless kitten.

Another missed opportunity for preemptive action? Noting that my backpack was slightly unzipped, but not doing anything to zip it.

Subconsciously, I must have decided I would just tread carefully and hope that a strong wind wouldn’t blow it completely open.

If only my subconscious weren’t such a selfish bitch!

After picking up my bag at the end of a cappella rehearsal, its entire contents spilled onto the floor.

Whenever anything of mine spills onto the floor, it is embarrassing because I am a hoarder.

For example, if you ask me for a pen, I will reach into my pocket and a frog will fall out. You’ll be shocked and ask, “Where did you get that frog?” And I’ll say, “Oh, hmm, not sure, somewhere during my travels! Could you hold him while I look for the pen? But be careful, he doesn’t take well to new people.”

(Spoiler alert: I won’t find the pen, and you will contract a weird frog disease that slowly but surely turns you into a frog. But, on the plus side, you will never again complain about finding flies in your soup! So quit complaining, I gave you a gift and saved several restaurants from failing inspection.)

Anyway, what fell out of my bag can only be described as…treasure.

Six napkins, two Starbursts (the yellow and orange rejects), a notepad with my initials monogramed on it, three empty gum packages, two stray pieces of gum, four pens, two informational pamphlets about God that were handed to me on the street (I was given two, which must mean I look like someone who really needs God in her life), a Domino’s menu, the front cover of Pride and Prejudice, an old issue of Cosmopolitan, an empty water bottle, a shoelace, and my passport. (I’d say all of these things are of equal importance.)

Had I simply closed my bag when I thought about it, none of my a cappella friends would have seen the contents of my bag. (Which would have been their loss, to be honest.)

Preemptive action would have been great in both of the above scenarios.

But, there are some times when preemptive action is not a foolproof approach.

Take late night munchies, for example.

This week, I made a pasta dish that had linguine, white wine, and scallops in it. It was delicious. I’m pretty sure my successful cooking shocked my roommate and made her question whether or not she really knows the girl with whom she shares a room. Maybe my scallop pasta dish is why she’s been sleeping with one eye open and a bottle of mace in her arms…

Anyway, I made so much pasta that I had leftovers for days.

Day 1: the pasta was delicious and the scallops were fresh.

Day 2: the pasta was sticky and the scallops had seen better days.

Day 3: I had eaten all of the scallops and so there was just scallop-flavored pasta left in the container.

Great for late night munchies! I thought, and put it back in the fridge.

Here is my PSA: you may be in college, and you may be trying to conserve every ounce of food that enters your apartment. That is all well and good. BUT, I am here to tell you that you do NOT need to save scallop-flavored pasta with the intent of eating it while under the influence of *fun.* The pasta will taste like it mingled with scallops for just long enough to have its perfume residue ingrained in the pillow, but not long enough to put a ring on it. It will taste like disappointment and heartbreak, and you will go to bed wondering what you could have done differently.

In the morning, surprise, surprise, you will feel like you ate scallop-flavored pasta and wonder if you should have your stomach pumped.

Next time, just splurge for the pizza.

Another instance where you should not meddle with the possibilities of the future? When you’re deciding whether or not to bring alcoholic beverages to a social event.

Everyone always claims their parties are BYOB, and I always try to respect this expectation. But, the trouble with BYOB is that, once you announce you’re bringing a bag full of B, you automatically become the bag lady/man of the group. (Which, let’s face it, is always my role.) And this bag will become increasingly heavier and will cause spinal damage.

Recently, in an effort to prevent future spinal damage, I decided I would carry my B in the pocket of my parka. One of my pockets is ripped all the way through, which means my belongings – instead of gathering in my pocket – fall through the pocket and set up shop in the body of my coat. (Yes, I have objects floating in my winter coat. Seriously though, out of all the things in this post that you could take issue with, lest we not dwell on this one.)

For a while, the hole in my coat was highly bothersome. Until, one night, I decided to make lemonade out of a giant hole and use it to transport my B!

No spinal damage, and plenty of B for me, I thought, before chuckling aloud at the rhyme I’d just made.

Well, as luck would have it, the contents of my black hole pocket were somehow tampered with, and proceeded to leak all over my coat.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, this is the same coat that also suffered from coffee spillage. So I am currently sporting a very unique scent.)

In an attempt to be responsible and to think about my physical well-being, I was again stopped short by the consequences of preemptive action.

So, my friends, sometimes, preemptive action – while it may come with the most responsible of intentions – is a dumb freaking idea.

(Spoiler alert: That is my thesis. I think I just reinvented the wheel.)


One Response to “Preemptive Action”

  1. thisthatandtheotherthang April 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Hahaha! This definitely had me hard-core giggling this morning (and I can totally relate to the whole preemptive action thing—especially when it comes to left overs. Note to self: eating 3-day old tacos with mushy meat and wilty lettuce “just because” does not a good meal make). Have a great weekend, girl!

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